As with most issues, there are two sides to the story. Unfortunately with the issue of vaccinations we rarely get the other side. I strongly encourage parents to become informed on all aspects of immunization before they inoculate their children. Many good books have been published to increase awareness of the “big picture” of vaccinations. There are three points I would like to bring to the awareness of our community. First, our state law allows us to choose whether or not to immunize our children. On the back of the school immunization card are medical, religious and personal exemptions. If your child is considered a medical risk, or your religious or personal beliefs do not support vaccination, you can sign the card under one of these headings and do not have to immunize your child. Second, there are contraindications to immunizing children. The following is some of the data from the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee, vaccine manufacturers and the U.S., Public Health Service. Strong considerations to not immunize should be given when your child: 1) is sick at the time of a scheduled vaccination 2) has a history of convulsions 3) had a serious prior reaction to DPT shots, including temperature of 105 degrees or above, limpness, paleness, continued crying, convulsions, allergic reaction, shock, severe central nervous system disorder or seizures 4) uses a drug or treatment which lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as cortisone, prednisone or some anti-cancer drugs 5) is hypersensitive to eggs or chicken (for MMR vaccine) 6) has a family history of hereditary immune deficiency or altered immune states such as leukemia, lymphoma and cancers 7) is pregnant within three months of receiving the vaccine 8) is sensitive to substances in vaccines, such as thimerisol (a mercury based preservative), aluminum phosphate or aluminum hydroxide 9) has an immediate family member who had a severe reaction to a DPT shot 10) was born prematurely or with low birth weight 11) has a personal or family history of severe allergies, including cow’s milk, asthma or eczema. Third, diseases contracted naturally are ordinarily filtered through a series of immune system defenses. But when the vaccine substance is injected into the child’s blood stream, it gains access to all of the major tissues and organs of the body without the body’s normal advantage of total immune response. Various elements of the vaccine can stay in the body for long periods of time and lay dormant, often incorporating into the genetic material of the host’s cells. Constant antigenic stimulation system can make us more susceptible to other infections and also lead to autoimmune diseases. Also, vaccines only give temporary immunity because they bypass our natural defenses whereas acquiring childhood diseases such as mumps, measles, German measles and chicken pox early in life, when symptoms and complications are minimal, give us life-long immunity. Interestingly, the New England Journal of Medicine, July 1994 issue, reported a study which found that over 80% of the children under fiv years of age who had contracted pertussis had been fully vaccinated. Thousands of children experience serious local and systemic side effects as well as death from their vaccinations, specifically the DPT shot. These deaths are often labeled coincidental by the health care provider. Convulsions, seizures, encephalitis and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – also known as crib death – can occur withing two to three weeks of inoculation, but can also take months to manifest. When Japan moved their DPT immunization schedule to start at age 2, the incidence of neurological reactions and SIDS dropped 80%. I have only briefly touched on the information and research available on the “other” side of the immunization story. Parents, please read books and the vaccine manufacturers information. Ask questions of your doctors and search out health practitioners who are knowledgeable on this subject. Get informed! Only then can you make a choice as to which vaccines, if any, you want your children to have. Don’t you deserve to have all the information before you subject your children to vaccines?